Suni Lee’s gold medal victory in the women’s gymnastics all-around was a powerful moment, and one would be hard-pressed not to leap out of their seat at her moment of triumph.
But there was no reaction to this feat greater than that of her family and friends watching back home in Minnesota. When it was revealed she had clinched a spot at the apex of the women’s gymnastics world, the room erupted with unfettered screams of joy.
Given Lee’s journey to the Tokyo Olympic Games, the win bears even greater weight for her and her family. Her father was paralyzed from the chest down in an accident in 2019, and last year she lost an aunt and an uncle to COVID-19. A lingering ankle injury cast doubt as to whether she would even be able to compete at the Olympics. Yet despite those hardships, Lee persevered, becoming the first Hmong American to represent Team USA at the Olympic Games and, now, the first to win gold.
With Simone Biles deciding not to compete in the women’s all-around to focus on her own mental health, the spotlight fell on Lee to step up. Indeed, she stepped up – and her fans and family stood up.
Don’t miss the full women’s gymnastics all-around tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.